WILMINGTON – Simon Heys was happy with an unofficial personal best 17:40 on the Troy cross country course Monday of last week.
“That made me excited,” he admitted with a laugh. “Technically, I PR’d at that course.”
When the gun went up for real, Heys blistered the 3.1-mile Div I Southwest Regional cross country layout to the tune of 16:19.35.
It’s a good thing he improved by more than 80 seconds. The 16:19.35 not only broke his own Wilmington High School cross country record but allowed the junior to qualify for the state meet Saturday.
Oh, and by the way, it gave Simon the Heys’ family record, besting his dad’s mark of 16:33. Brad Heys is one of the WHS cross country coaches along with Eileen Grosse.
“My big goal was I wanted to break my dad’s 5K record of 16:33,” Simon said.
Brad set the mark as a senior at Lakota High School in 1988, the younger Heys pointed out.
The Div. I state meet for Heys will be 3 p.m. Saturday at the National Trail Raceway in Hebron. He is the first WHS boys runner to make the state cross country meet since Tom Beam in 1981.
Getting to state this season seemed like the logical progression but the past two years gave Heys pause when he set his goals.
“I haven’t had the best regional meets my freshman and sophomore years for different reasons,” he said. “The whole week (last week) was to build my confidence (on the Troy course), to show myself I could make it to state.”
On a chilly, rainy Monday in the shadow of Hobart Arena, the Heys duo went to Troy and ran along the Great Miami River and then around Troy Memorial Stadium. Though the 17:40 time wouldn’t be good enough to get Heys to state, it was an improvement and armed him with the knowledge he could continue to drop his time and reach the pinnacle race for Ohio high school runners.
“In 2015 and 2016, we trained Simon to peak at the conference and district meets,” Brad said.
This year, the peak was set for the regional meet.
“My freshman year, I don’t get nervous before races but I feel that was the first race I got nervous and I just crashed and burned,” Heys said of the regional in 2015. “My sophomore year was kinda the same thing. I just completely unfolded. That was a mess … they were both a mess.”
Brad said Simon ran an intelligent race at the regional this year which helped him finish eighth overall and earn a trip to the state meet.
“I’d love to break 16 (minutes), run in the 15s (at state),” Simon said. “That would be awesome. PR is always a goal. Top 20 would be nice, that’s going to be really tough to do.”